NFL Attempts To Finally Implement Revised Drug Policy

By McCarton Ackerman 09/09/14

While professional football tries to save face with Ray Rice, the NFL has been quietly negotiating a new drug policy with players.

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Exactly three years after the NFL and its players union agreed to negotiate a new drug policy that would include blood testing for human growth hormone, representatives on both sides met yesterday in an attempt to hash out the long-delayed plan.

The New York meeting is a second attempt to find a halfway point after both sides exchanged proposals last week, but failed to resolve many of the outstanding issues. Those issues include punishments for DUI arrests and the status of several suspended players including Denver Broncos receiver Wes Welker and Cleveland Browns receiver Josh Gordon. The league wants to punish players immediately after a DUI arrest instead of waiting for cases to wade through the court system, but the players' union is opposed. If these issues don't reach a resolution, the revised drug policy may not happen until the 2015-2016 season at earliest.

Issues related to marijuana use will also play a major part in the discussions. The current league policy requires players to enter their drug program if they test positive for marijuana. A second positive test warrants a four-game suspension and further offenses result in more severe punishments. However, the NFL has come under fire after Gordon was given a year-long suspension for a second positive test, while Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was only suspended for two games after being videotaped assaulting his then-fiancée.

Drug use plagued NFL rosters in recent months. Dallas Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick was suspended for four games last month over his MDMA use, Denver Broncos kicker Matt Prater was given a four-game suspension last month for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, and Wes Welker was suspended for four games after testing positive for amphetamines.

A poll of more than 100 players conducted earlier this month by’s NFL nation found that 75% of the players agreed with Barack Obama’s statement made to The New Yorker this January that pot is not as dangerous as alcohol.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.